FOX16 Feel-Goods: Sports Stories to Lift Spirits | 3 Mini-Docs, 1 Place

Local Sports

LITTLE ROCK, Ark — We know. It’s a difficult time out there. So, we’re trying to help.

Sports everywhere seems to be at a standstill. But that doesn’t mean it can’t offer valuable lessons to us today, when we’re all striving for hope, strength, and resilience.

In a 5-week span before the coronavirus pandemic was declared a national emergency, FOX16’s Nick Walters did three mini-documentaries. These 30 minutes of local sports stories have uplifted Arkansans in recent months, brightening days and inspiring many.

Whether you’re self-quarantining, social distancing, or just anxious given circumstances around the world — We hope these videos can lift your spirits, and prove that no hardship is unsurmountable.

AGAINST ALL ODDS: The Story of JT Towers

 JT Towers is now an Arkansas Razorback. It’s an accomplishment he’s always dreamt of — And one that he overcame unthinkable odds to reach.

Adversity Surpassed:

  1. Lost his brother Zack to brain trauma caused by a football injury in 2014.
  2. T-boned by a semi-truck in 2017. It left JT with forehead stitches, broken neck vertebrae, a broken rib, a hole in his lung, hand tendon laceration, a torn labrum, and coming fractions of an inch to sustaining brain damage.
  3. Then focused on playing quarterback, JT was forced to miss his sophomore season and relearn how to throw a football due to the wreck.
  4. After a breakout junior year despite his injuries, JT transferred to Joe T. Robinson High School and was converted to a linebacker.
  5. Without any college football offers as a senior, JT broke his toe in the season-opener. He returned only a few weeks later, playing in pain the rest of the year.
  6. Helped lead Joe T. Robinson to a first state championship win in 30 years. He secured an offer from his dream school, Arkansas, and committed only hours later.

(Air Date: January 26, 2020)

HOG DREAM: Chandler McIntosh’s Unthinkable Road to Arkansas

A newly-signed Razorback you maybe haven’t heard of: Chandler McIntosh, a preferred walk-on. His path to get here is truly one of a kind.

Adversity Surpassed:

  1. Diagnosed with Global Developmental Delay in Speech as a toddler.
  2. Attended a school for the impaired until he began speaking years later than most children.
  3. Endured difficult financial circumstances through middle school, having his home’s lights go out at times and his father struggling to pay the bills.
  4. Told he “wasn’t SEC material” by a coach after not being invited to Arkansas Junior Day.
  5. Transferring to a new school with only one more year of eligibility, Chandler broke the Arkansas state record for single-season tackles and helped lead Joe T. Robinson to a state championship.
  6. Still short of meeting his “Hog Dream,” Chandler fell into a depressive state. He considered other career options, such as joining the military, before receiving a Preferred Walk-On offer from Arkansas days before National Signing Day. He accepted and cried tears of joy after signing.

(Air Date: February 15, 2020)

SPECIAL: Treat Unordinary as Extraordinary

Michael Joe Lanari has down-syndrome. But student-athletes at Joe T. Robinson decided that wouldn’t get in the way of forming of a unique bond. A story of acceptance leading to friendship, a kid being given confidence, and so-called “jocks” proving a stereotype wrong.

Adversity Surpassed:

  1. While fighting through pneumonia, Michael Joe underwent open-heart surgery as an infant, nearly costing him his life.
  2. Growing up, Michael Joe faced fear of judgment growing up through a public school system.
  3. He remains behind other students at his school in quality of speech to this day.
  4. Putting himself out there, Michael Joe connected with student-athletes at his school beginning at lunch. Over time, he’s formed a friendship that has shined on-and-off fields.
  5. Having been an honorary team captain, Michael Joe remains close with football and baseball players at Robinson High. He’s even taking a former volleyball player to prom.

(Air Date: March 1, 2020)

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